Congress Welcomes BRS Defectors in Telangana, but Will It Lead to Infighting?

Several prominent BRS leaders are joining the Congress ahead of the Assembly elections.

Hindi Female

The Congress in Telangana – which is yet to release its list of candidates for the state Assembly elections – has been riding high over the past few weeks with several prominent Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leaders joining its ranks.

The latest in the list of leaders to quit the ruling BRS is MLC Kasireddy Narayan Reddy from Mahabubnagar, who is set to join the Congress soon. He met Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) chief Revanth Reddy at his residence on Sunday, 1 October.

Just last week, sitting BRS MLA from Malkajgiri, Mynampally Hanumanth Rao, joined the Congress after Revanth Reddy promised him two tickets – one for himself and another for his son Rohit Reddy. Hanumanth Rao's resignation had come as a jolt to the BRS as his name had fared in the party's candidate list released in August.

But as defectors make their way into the party in hopes of tickets, the Congress has a rather massive task ahead of it – making sure infighting doesn't get the best of it.

Why Are Leaders Leaving BRS?

Narayan Reddy's resignation, according to reports, was sparked by the BRS preferring incumbent MLA Jaipal Yadav for the Kalwakurthy Assembly seat. In the 2018 Assembly polls, too, Narayan Reddy was supposedly sidelined – and he was hoping to get a party ticket this time. 

As for Hanumanth Rao, the BRS reportedly refused to give a ticket to his son from the Medak constituency, prompting both of them to jump ship. Revanth Reddy had said ahead of their joining:

"We are making an exception for the Mynampally family. We have promised them two tickets and they will be joining the party formally soon."

The exception he was referring to concerned the 2022 Udaipur Declaration of the Congress party, which states that tickets would be given to just one member of a family unless the other members have over five years of organisational experience in the party.

Hanumanth Rao's and his son's entry, therefore, had ruffled some feathers in the Congress. The Medak District Congress Committee (DCC) president Kantareddy Tirupati Reddy – for one – resigned from the party as a result.

On Wednesday, 4 October, the DCC president in Malkajgiri, Nandi Kanti Sridhar, joined the BRS. Welcoming him into the party, BRS leader Dasoju Sravan said, "Revanth deliberately discriminated and ignored Sridhar demeaning his commitment & contribution to Telangana Congress and welcomed people with cash."


Other prominent leaders who quit the BRS recently included the party's former Nakrekal MLA Vemula Veeresham. Anil Kumar from the Bhongir constituency, who had defected from the Congress to the BRS a few months ago, also made his way back to the grand old party in hopes of a ticket. 

"The Congress has onboarded several BRS leaders because they have no future in the ruling party. For various reasons, these leaders feel that there is no hope of them getting BRS tickets," a senior journalist and political analyst told The Quint, on the condition of anonymity.

"Take, for instance, Jupally Krishna Rao from Mahabubnagar. In political circles, he is known to have had a running feud with BRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao. He knows his future is sealed in the BRS. So, he moved to the Congress. The same goes for Ponguleti Srinivas Reddy in Khammam. There's an ego clash between him and KCR – and he knew he wouldn't survive in the BRS."

The analyst also pointed out that there are several mid-level leaders in the party who are disgruntled but are choosing to stay on with the BRS "because they have been promised something in the future – like MP tickets or MLC tickets."

"T Rajaiah from Warangal used to be deputy CM in 2014. He has a running feud with another prominent leader in the district, Kadiyam Srihari. Rajaiah is the incumbent MLA, but Srihari is going to be the candidate now. But even people like him are staying in the BRS because they have been promised something else," the analyst added.

In other words, only leaders who feel their futures have ended in the BRS are joining the Congress. "Many others still feel that since the BRS is the ruling party, it has better prospects to win the polls," he explained. 


What Does This Mean for Congress?

"There has been a growing perception that the Congress will do well in the Telangana Assembly elections. This perception is very important to the party – and other leaders joining is a good sign because it creates a positive image in the minds of the people that the party is likely to win," anchor and political commentator Sumanth C Raman told The Quint.

He added that "even three years ago, they [the Congress] were nowhere. They were virtually the third party in Telangana, even behind the BJP." 

The change in perception began after the Karnataka Assembly elections, where the party scored a massive win against the BJP, experts pointed out.

"The BJP in Telangana has suddenly lost its steam; they were on the rise and even had a measure of success in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections," the political analyst said. 

But even as the Congress may be winning the perception battle, it would have problems to deal with once it releases its list of candidates.

"Whenever people from another party join a party, those who have been working for the party for many years will feel neglected and will have some resentment. But eventually, it is for the party leadership to see how they can take everyone along," Raman said.

He added that "even in Karnataka, when former BJP leader Jagadish Shettar joined the Congress in April, there were people in the northern part of the state who were not happy."


But this disgruntlement could lead to infighting in the party, the analyst pointed out. According to him:

  • There is a possibility that the BRS would "spirit away all the disgruntled leaders in the Congress once it releases the candidate list."

  • "There is a demand for more tickets to leaders from Backward Classes this time. The Congress has promised 34 seats to BCs, but it would be very difficult to meet that number and there might be unrest because of that."

  • "The party may not give tickets to very senior leaders, and that might create rifts."

  • "There is also the issue of too many CM aspirants in the Congress. Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, Ponguleti Srinivas Reddy, and Revanth Reddy have their eyes on the CM's chair."

The analyst added that once the Congress list is out, "it will be easier for the BRS to widen these differences and use one faction against the other."

Raman, however, said that even though infighting may be a reality, the Congress would still manage to put up a good fight against the ruling party.

"The election at one point was just a formality. In the 2018 polls, it was known that the BRS would have a clean sweep. Now, it doesn't look like that; it looks like there's actually going to be a contest. The BRS still has its nose in the front, but it may not be like last time," he added.

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